Posted by: Kara @ The Foodie Dietitian | June 21, 2010

The vino debate. Healthy or unhealthy?

I was out to dinner with a couple of lovely ladies in the North End of Boston last night. The North End is the Italian district filled with delicious authentic Italian restaurants. To savor with our food, we ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir, my red wine of choice. As I reflected on my dinner last night, I couldn’t help but think how there are a lot of mixed messages in the media about the health benefits of wine. Should I drink more? Should I drink less? Is wine good for my health? Let’s try and answer some of these questions!

Resveratrol is a new big buzz word when debating the health benefits of wine. In addition to its antioxidant properties, resveratrol can help increase HDL cholesterol (the good guys) and decrease LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff that clogs your arteries). Another antioxidant, flavanoids are also found in red wine and have heart healthy benefits. It’s great that wine includes some healthy compounds but the amount that is actually found in wine isn’t enough to produce health benefits if you follow the recommendations for alcohol intake.

Do you know what the recommendations are for alcohol intake? No more than one drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men. That doesn’t mean it’s recommended to drink every day though! Alcohol unfortunately does have some negative effects and poses risks to our health as well. Studies have shown that consumption of more than 2 drinks per day can increase risk of breast cancer.  Another issue with alcohol to beware of is its addictive properties. Sometimes we forget alcohol is a drug and believe it or not it actually has the worst withdrawal effects out of all drugs! So if you don’t drink already, it’s not a good idea to pick it up just to get some potential health benefits!

The bottom line for the vino debate is there is no one right answer! It really needs to be a question that is looked at on an individual basis. If someone is already drinking one glass of wine per day and has a history of heart disease or high cholesterol, then it might be advised to them to continue with their current alcohol intake. However, if someone has a family history of breast cancer or issues with the liver, then the recommendations are gonna change a bit.

To sum it all up, if you like yourself a nice glass of wine with the occasional dinner or on the weekends, go for it! Enjoy it! Don’t drink just because you think it is healthy though. There are so many other ways to get better health benefits such as increasing fruit and vegetable intake or exercising!


Peace, love, and food,





  1. great post!! I heard somewhere that it is really only beneficial if you are older-50 +. ie college students shouldn’t use resveratrol to justify their drinking habits 😉 Again, everything in moderation. If you already drink a glass a day, that’s probably fine, but this isn’t a reason to pick up a vino habit.

    on another note-i’d love to learn more about wine,the different varities, terroir, tastes, etc. Have you even taken a tasting class in Boston? it’s on my to-do list….

    happy first day of summer!

    • thanks! i agree 100% – everything in moderation! i have never taken a wine tasting class in boston but that would definitely be something i’d be interested in doing! i did go wine tasting in the niagara vineyards of lewiston, ny, and that was a treat! it was amazing to see the vineyards and learn how they make the different varieties.

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